|From: Bristol Herald Courier at TriCities.com
Courtesy of DANA
CARUFEL (NEWS CHANNEL 11)
Konnarock soldier killed in mortar attack
BY MATTHEW LAKIN and RAIN SMITH
BRISTOL HERALD COURIER
Jun 23, 12:20 AM EDT
KONNAROCK Ė The Mountain Empire lost another soldier Monday.
Staff Sgt. Gregory V. Pennington, 36, of the 2nd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment of the 1st U.S. Cavalry Division, died in a mortar attack on his camp, inside one of Saddam Husseinís former palaces in Baghdad, Iraq, according to the Defense Department.
"His captain said he died a hero," said the soldierís father, Aulbin Pennington. "Heíll always be my hero."
Eight hundred forty U.S. service members have died in Iraq, according to The Associated Press.
Pennington had been stationed in Iraq since March, his father said. Monday was his 97th day there.
"We thought he was a little safer," Aulbin Pennington said. "Apparently he wasnít."
Army officers told the family that Pennington helped evacuate the camp before being killed by a mortar blast. He died on the way to a military hospital, family members said.
"They were asleep, and Greg heard them start firing," said his half-sister, Vicky Widener. "Greg hurried and woke everybody up and got all the other guys out. He was the last one to go out."
Pennington joined the Army upon graduation from Holston High School in Damascus in 1986.
"He graduated one day and went in the next," his father said.
Mike Patrick graduated with Pennington and enlisted at the same time. The two went through basic training together at Fort Knox, Ky., and served in the same company.
"I was glad to know him," Patrick said. "He was just one those likeable people with never a bad thing to say about anybody."
Pennington left the Army and returned home to Konnarock, working at the Southwestern Virginia Mental Health Institute in Marion as a storeroom supervisor before re-enlisting in 1996.
"He thought he was making a good choice," said his brother, Walter Pennington. "There just isnít much (work) around here."
Pennington was assigned to Fort Hood, Texas, last year, where he was living with his wife, Janet.
Penningtonís body wasnít expected to be returned to Konnarock until next week. His family plans to bury him Azen Baptist Church Cemetery, not far from the house in the shadow of the mountains where he grew up.
Rain Smith writes for the Washington County News.
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